Small Group Expedition - Fly In / Sail Out

Antarctic Peninsula

February 8 - March 1, 2020
Cost: $19,990 - $23,290
Leader: Ted Cheeseman and Tom Hart
Group Size: 12
Days: 23

Safari Overview

Fly to the Antarctic and sail on our 12-passenger ship to experience islands along the Antarctic Peninsula rich with wildlife and only ever visited by a handful of people. Led by exceptionally experienced and knowledgeable expedition guides and crew, you will travel among curious penguins, whales, and mountainous scenery during 14 full landing days. You will benefit from the ease and flexibility of getting such a small number of travelers ashore. Conditions permitting, we will focus on areas completely outside the range of larger tour vessels, such as the newly discovered Adelie penguin super-colony on the secluded Danger Islands. This archipelago is home to over 1.5 million penguins! Your time in nature will be unrivaled as you explore in quiet serenity. You’ll also avoid the southbound Drake Passage crossing that has for so long challenged operations of small vessels. This expedition offers a great depth of exploration and unsurpassed experiences for an intimate group, while enriching your understanding of the Antarctic ecosystem through substantial participatory citizen science.

HIGHLIGHTS
• Fly to Antarctica over the Drake Passage, saving three days of ship travel.
• Conditions permitting, visit the recently discovered Danger Islands Adelie penguin super-colony.
• Enjoy the flexibility and serenity of being aboard a 12-passenger vessel, during 14 full landing days.
• Experience beautiful sunrises and sunsets backlighting stunning landscapes.
• Be a part of scientific research.

Itinerary Updated: November 2018



Ship Info FAQ Print Trip
Date Description Lodge Meals
Feb 8 Depart home.
Feb 9 Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile. Hotel Jose Nogueira, Punta Arenas
Feb 10 Fly to King George Island and board ship. Onboard the Hans Hansson B, L, D
Feb 11-24 Explore South Shetlands and Antarctic Peninsula during 14 full landing days. Onboard the Hans Hansson B, L, D
Feb 25-27 Cruise northward across the Drake Passage. Onboard the Hans Hansson B, L, D
Feb 28 Disembark in Puerto Williams, Chile. Lakutaia Lodge, Puerto Williams B, L, D
Feb 29 Fly to Punta Arenas and connect to flight homeward. B
Mar 1 Arrive home.

Our Trip Leaders

Ted Cheeseman

Ted grew up traveling extensively and began studying and photographing wildlife as a child. After completing a Master's degree in Tropical Conservation Biology at Duke University, Ted returned to California to lead and organize expeditions full time with Cheesemans' Ecology Safaris. Ted currently leads expeditions to Antarctica, the Arctic, and the Caribbean while pursuing a doctoral degree studying humpback whales. He also recently founded the citizen science project Happywhale.

Dr. Tom Hart

Tom has a passion for wildlife in extreme environments and is working hard to conserve them in a changing world. His PhD involved tracking macaroni penguins to understand penguin foraging behavior. Since then, he expanded into genetics and image analysis to monitor wildlife in remote places. He runs the Penguin Lifelines project at Oxford University through which he seeks to understand changes in Antarctic wildlife using time-lapse cameras, volunteer photos, and population genetics to effectively create protected areas and manage fisheries.

Detailed Itinerary

A glimpse into our journey

Fly to Punta Arenas, Chile

Feb 8

For most traveling to Punta Arenas, you will need to leave home today.

Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile

Feb 9

Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile. A transfer agent will transfer you from the airport to your hotel. If you would like to arrive earlier, we can arrange your airport transfer and book extra nights.

Fly to King George Island, Antarctica

Feb 10

Weather permitting, you will board the charter flight to King George Island and land at Teniente R. Marsh Airport, the northernmost airport on the continent of Antarctica. Then, you will transfer to the Hans Hansson to begin exploring the Antarctic.

Explore South Shetlands and Antarctic Peninsula

Feb 11-24

The warm glow of sunrise reveals our position in the South Shetland Islands; you will have early and late landings and Zodiac cruises to take full advantage of the best light.

Due to the expeditionary nature of our voyage, specific stops cannot be guaranteed. Flexibility is paramount in expedition travel; our itinerary depends on the conditions. We strive to land often and stay as long as possible, abiding by the Guidelines for Responsible Ecotourism from the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO).

The South Shetland Islands ~ Deception, Half Moon, Livingstone, Aitcho Island
The South Shetlands are a string of volcanic islands, some still active, that run parallel to the Antarctic Peninsula across the Bransfield Strait. Fondly known as the “Banana Belt of Antarctica,” these islands boast the richest concentrations of terrestrial wildlife in the Antarctic due to their proximity to the rich upwelling waters from the great Circumpolar Current. Even with our luxuriously in-depth itinerary, we will have to choose between many very compelling sites. Deception Island is a favorite and one of the most exciting islands on your voyage. This horseshoe-shaped, volcanic island is still active, as its hot thermal pools demonstrate. You may land on both the outside wall and inside the caldera that opens to the ocean via a narrow gap called Neptune’s Bellows. The landing at Bailey Head is home to about 100,000 chinstrap penguins, but the sea can make landings tricky with steep swells crashing on an exposed beach. Inside Deception’s huge caldera, you can hope to land and take a short hike up the mountainside among the lichen-draped cliffs to the scenic overlook. On the beach at Whaler’s Bay, you may find Weddell seals basking. Deception Island also offers one the most unique experiences of the voyage – plunging into the thermal pools alongside the beach surrounded by clouds of steam. The water temperature can be fairly comfortable, although it can get so hot that it’s necessary to mix in colder water!

On a clear day, the chinstrap penguins of Half Moon Island make a delightful foreground to the breathtaking eastern coastline of nearby Livingston Island. At this end of the Earth, the vast scale of nature will open your senses. Great respect must be given to the fragile vegetation and the wildlife colonies. You will have you as much freedom as possible to enjoy the magnificent wildlife and landscapes within the bounds of safety and minimal impact.

Both chinstrap and gentoo penguins breed on Aitcho Island, an island covered in mossy green carpets making a surprisingly bright contrast to Antarctica’s intensely achromatic landscapes. Conditions permitting, take a walk across the island past the southern elephant seal wallows. This landing site and other similar sites with southern elephant seals offer a terrific chance to see (and smell!) the world’s largest species of seal, also perhaps joined by hauled out Weddell seals and southern fur seals.

From the South Shetlands, sail southwest across the Bransfield Strait into the fabled Gerlache Strait. Here you can expect whale sightings to ring out from the bridge as the Antarctic Peninsula landscape rises up around you into a glacier-draped view of mountainous proportion. You can expect whales among sculpted icebergs in the foreground and staggering mountain walls in the background, making for some of the world’s best Zodiac cruising. You can hope for magnificent sunsets, sculpted blue icebergs, and close penguin and whale encounters, each with the potential for an experience that you will never forget. You will visit sites where the penguins and seals that once sustained early Antarctic explorers have taken over, leaving only faint clues of the age of exploration and exploitation.

Western Antarctic Peninsula ~ Danger Islands, Danco Coast, Neumeyer, and Lemaire Channel
You will sail across the Bransfield Straight to reach one of Antarctica’s hidden gems, the Danger Islands, if ice and weather allow access. These intense jagged islands were largely unexplored until very recently when researchers used satellite imagery to spot what resembled the traces of a penguin colony. Upon landing on the danger islands in 2015 to confirm their findings, researchers were shocked to find hundreds of thousands of Adelie penguins breeding, one of Antarctica’s most important Adelie penguin breeding sites. You will be among the very few to ever set foot on these islands that are teeming with life!

You’ll then travel south along the picturesque Danco Coast on the west coast of Graham Land, which has awe-inspiring scenery with coastlines deeply indented with bays. Impressive mountains rise sharply from the Chinstrap Penguin coast to the central Graham Land Plateau and glaciers descend to narrow piedmont ice shelves. Extensive Zodiac cruising and opportunistic landings during the best light will allow us to soak in the serenity of this majestic place.

You’ll make your way down the coast into Wilhemina Bay, Neko Harbour, and Paradise Bay, among the most beautiful areas in Antarctica. These waters rank high on our long list of favorite places for Zodiac cruising. Enjoy views of sculpted icebergs and surfacing whales as you cruise the inner bays near spectacular glaciers and ethereal mountains. You can expect wonderful whale behavior in these plentiful summer feeding grounds as the krill swarms are enormous. You will find colonies of gentoo and chinstrap penguins, sometimes in mixed colonies, along with their attendant scavengers: snowy sheathbills, brown skuas, south polar skuas, and kelp gulls. Hope for a landing in Neko Harbour on the Antarctic continent proper, with an opportunity for a walk and an incredible view.

Enjoy the view from the ship as you navigate through stunning Neumeyer and Lemaire channels or around the south end of Anvers Island into Biscoe Bay where you will be completely surrounded by ice-draped peaks soaring dramatically out of the water. Crabeater, Weddell, and leopard seals are often hauled out on the ice floes and whales may even surface between the floes, so keep your cameras ready! Tall, hanging ice cliffs, the fronts of highly fractured tidewater glaciers, decorate most of the shoreline for unforgettable scenery. At the southern part of the Lemaire Channel you’ll find Petermann Island. Located at 65°S, Petermann is an outstanding location to see gentoo and Adelie penguins on their nesting grounds, often with chicks chasing parents who have returned to feed them. The clear water is beautiful for observing and photographing penguins returning to land. Petermann has seen a reversal in abundance between the two species, with half the numbers of Adelie penguins we found twenty years ago, but twice the numbers of gentoos. Photogenic Antarctic shags are also found on the edges of the colonies.

You’ll leisurely sail north, keeping your eyes out for cetaceans, including orcas and even rare beaked whales, and explore wonderful coves that are breeding areas for leopard seals. You will surely find yourself cruising with humpbacks as they swim and lunge feed among the icebergs offshore in these waters where whale populations are recovering from the extreme exploitation of the 20th century whaling era. The region offers excellent opportunities to find Antarctic minke whales feeding and orcas cruising for seals and penguins. The photography in these rich krill areas of the Peninsula is truly fantastic. Port Lockroy, located at the end of the very narrow and beautiful Peltier Channel close to Neumeyer Channel, has a British Antarctica Survey maritime museum and a sprawling gentoo penguin colony.

Return through the Drake Passage and Beagle Channel

Feb 25-27

Even with the extended time our voyage will allow along the Antarctic Peninsula, it will no doubt still feel too soon to leave the continent behind. As we sail north on the homeward leg, we will share delightful memories of our experiences, enjoy a group slide show of images captured, and talk of plans for future travels. The wildlife, however, is not all behind us. Almost 500 miles north of the South Shetlands, near Cape Horn, the waters here at the tip of the South American continental shelf are as rich as seawaters can be and seabirds are sometimes present in large flocks, especially Sooty Shearwaters if the sea is calm. Peale’s Dolphins and other marine mammals may also be seen. Once in the lee of Cape Horn, any ocean swell will disappear, and we will enter the Beagle Channel for a final scenic cruise to Puerto Williams.

Disembark in Puerto Williams, Chile

Feb 28

You will dock at Puerto Williams, Chile by early morning. After breakfast, you will disembark the Hans Hansson and spend the night in Puerto Williams, Chile.

Travel homeward

Feb 29

Spend your last morning in Puerto Williams, and then our local agent will transfer you from the hotel to the airport for your flight to Punta Arenas where you will connect homewards.

Arrive home

Mar 1

Arrive home today depending on your flight schedule.

Antarctic Peninsula

Sail on our 12-passenger ship to experience the Antarctic Peninsula – home to over 1.5 million penguins.

-64.633333, -62.166667

Ship Information

Hans Hansson

The Hans Hansson was originally built for the Norwegian Lifeboat Association and in 2005 underwent a major refit, including renewing the interior to provide comfortable accommodations for our twelve passengers. She is ideally suited for extended voyages in comfort and safety anywhere in the world. Our vessel is a solid workboat, yet she boasts a comfortable main saloon and library/recreational area.


More Information

Cost & Payments

Costs (in US$)

Type Description Cost Per Person
Twin shared Bottom deck cabins feature twin bunks, portholes, desk, wardrobe, couch, washbasin, and shared bath facilities. $19,990
Superior private Middle deck cabins feature twin bunks, portholes, office, wardrobe, washbasin, and private bath facilities. $23,290

Costs are per person, double occupancy, not including airfare (except flights listed as included), singles extra. See Included and Not Included sections for more details.

We reserve the right to charge for cost increases that occur between when we set tour prices and the date of travel, for example, changes due to the cost of lodging and transportation. If you are a single traveler and you desire, we will find a roommate for you. If we cannot find you a roommate, we will not charge you a single supplement. If space is available, one twin shared cabin can be booked for a single occupant by adding 30% over the listed cabin cost. Single rooms are subject to availability.

Please note that we cannot guarantee a specific cabin number. If changes occur, we will do everything in our power to assign a cabin of equal or greater value as the cabin type specified in your reservation. Deck plan, cabin arrangements, and cabin amenities are subject to change by ship operator.


Payment Schedule

Payment Due Date Amount Per Person
Deposit Due now to reserve your space $3,000
Second November 1, 2018 $6,000
Third February 1, 2019 $6,000
Final August 1, 2019 Remaining Balance

Payments will be due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space. For reservations made after a due date, all past payments will be due with registration. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule and cancellation policy as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited.


Cancellations

Refunds are given depending on the time left before departure according to the following table. The cancellation fee of $1,000 per person can be applied toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable. Consider purchasing trip cancellation insurance that could reimburse your trip costs in the event of your cancellation.

Dates Forfeited Amount per Person
On or before May 31, 2019 $1,000
June 1 to June 30, 2019 10% of tour cost
July 1 to July 31, 2019 40% of tour cost
On or after August 1, 2019 100% of tour cost

Included

  • All leaders, transport, permits, landing fees, passenger fees, and port taxes, including an IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators) passenger fee.
  • Charter flight on February 10 between Punta Arenas, Chile and King George Island, South Shetland Islands.
  • Accommodations (double occupancy) in Punta Arenas and in Puerto Williams for the nights of February 9 and February 28, respectively.
  • Eighteen nights on board the Hans Hansson.
  • Meals from breakfast on February 10 through breakfast on February 29.
  • Airport transfers to Hotel Jose Nogueira on February 9, transfers to Punta Arenas airport for the charter flight on February 10, transfers to Lakutaia Lodge on February 28, and transfers to Puerto Williams airport for the flight on February 29.
  • Non-alcoholic beverages plus wine and beer during meals while onboard the Hans Hansson.
  • Rubber boots on loan while onboard the Hans Hansson.
  • Trip Materials – information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.

Not Included

  • All airfare (except flights listed as included), airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees. Airfare is approximately $1,300–$2,000 round trip from the USA to Punta Arenas, Chile, depending on origin, plus about $130 for flight from Puerto Williams to Punta Arenas.
  • Passport and visa fees.
  • We can arrange divergent airport transfers and extra hotel nights for an extra cost.
  • Gratuities for the ship’s crew. Tipping is, of course, discretionary, however we suggest budgeting $10 to $15 per participant per day for February 10 to February 28 aboard the Hans Hansson ($190 to $285 total per participant).
  • Emergency medical and evacuation insurance, but it is required for you to purchase. For more information see www.cheesemans.com/travel-insurance.
  • Trip cancellation insurance. For more information see www.cheesemans.com/travel-insurance.
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, fax/phone/email charges, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation/Release Form.

Climate

Antarctica has a cold, dry, sometimes windy climate even in the summer. Normal summer temperatures are 25 to 40°F on the Peninsula, known as the ‘Banana Belt’. Penetrating cold is not usually a problem. Wind chill and wetness while riding in Zodiacs are the primary conditions to insulate against. It is also possible to get wet weather, but often it is with wind, so an umbrella is not usually practical. Waterproof gloves, warm cap, layers of light, loose, warm clothing, water-repellent outer garments, and sunscreen are necessary.

In Punta Arenas and Puerto Williams in February, the average temperature is around 48°F and it can be very windy. Weather can change quickly in this region and it is not unusual to have three seasons in one day with rain, hail, and accompanying wind, so be prepared.

Fitness Level

Participating in this voyage does not require a high level of physical fitness, but please be sure that you can: (1) stay without medical assistance for the duration of the trip, (2) swim or float, (3) be sufficiently stable on your feet that you can, for example, stand on a bus/train in normal conditions without (or minimally) holding on, (4) get in and out of a Zodiac on a beach with a little swell, (5) walk 10 blocks without getting exhausted, and (6) climb a 6-ft vertical ladder. Once on shore, you can walk for short or long distances (within the specified guidelines); it is up to you. Landing details will be given in advance of each landing. Please contact us if you have any health or fitness concerns that may make this trip challenging.

Flights

Unless listed as included, airfare is not included in trip costs. Detailed logistical information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you. Please let us know if you are arriving earlier or staying later as we are happy to assist you with any extra overnights that you might want to arrange.

Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive in Punta Arenas, Chile (PUQ) by February 9. Depart from Punta Arenas, Chile (PUQ) after 2:00pm on February 29.

Flights we book for you: The charter flight between Punta Arenas and King George Island. The cost of this booking is included in the tour cost. The flight from Puerto Williams to Punta Arenas. We’ll add the cost of this booking to your final trip balance.

FAQ

How will I get to participate in science?

In addition to travelling to unique, amazing, and remote destinations, our voyage advances the scientific understanding of ecosystems we care about. Dr. Tom Hart, of the University of Oxford (https://oxfordoceanresearch.org/people/dr-tom-hart/), will join our expedition to collect samples, make observations, and record data to help contribute to his ongoing research. If you wish, you may help him as he establishes and services remote field cameras that remain in place year-round. These cameras, deployed extensively in the Antarctic, South Georgia Island, the South Sandwich Islands, and the Arctic, are very effective at revealing unexpected patterns in seabird breeding biology, such as penguins visiting their otherwise abandoned colonies in the middle of winter. Why do they do this? Join us and learn from Tom!

Accommodations

Seasickness

Don’t let a fear of seasickness scare you away! Over the years many who have dreamed of experiencing Antarctica with us have stayed home for fear of seasickness, but of all those who have joined, we know of only one passenger who said that seasickness really affected the enjoyment of the trip. Still, that same passenger talked about repeating the trip, because the rest of the experiences more than made up for it. For all but the most sensitive, motion sickness is only a problem during the open ocean passages. While we are cruising close to land – the majority of the trip – seas are usually quite calm. The Southern Ocean has a reputation for the worst seas in the world, not because conditions are always rough (on the average day, the seas are actually quite calm!) but because the extremes are large. If we are hit by a storm during our return and only Drake crossing, the experience will be memorable. For this reason, unless you know you are immovable by the heavy seas, bring a good supply of medication. Many of our frequent travelers are quite susceptible to seasickness, yet they come back year after year because they love Antarctica! Read our suggestions for coping with seasickness and contact us if you have any concerns.

Transportation

Conditions

  • Non-smoking policy: We have a strict non-smoking policy. Smoking is not permitted at any time or any place during our tours.
  • Maximum time in nature: We try to spend as much time in nature as possible, sometimes resulting in long days but giving you a more in-depth experience.
  • Itinerary route: The itinerary route, stops, and plans are subject to change by unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, such as weather or road conditions.
  • Additional forms: For some of our tours, you may be asked to fill out additional forms (e.g., medical questionnaire).
  • Medical conditions and travel risks: Travel to remote places is exciting, but it is important to understand and accept the risks, both medical and logistical. Minor medical problems can usually be treated, but because we are often far from medical facilities, there can be no expectation for immediate medical treatment or evacuation, even in cases of trauma. Anyone with health problems needing close medical supervision should not consider going on this tour. Bring enough medication for the duration of the trip for any chronic medical needs, since pharmacies are usually not available. When you send your deposit and signed Reservation/Release Form, you certify to us that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions that would create a risk for yourself or for other trip participants.
  • Use of Drones/UAVs on Tours: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), AKA drones, are not suitable for use on most Cheesemans’ Ecology expeditions due to logistical constraints and in many cases, local and national laws or regulations. In some cases, such as on our polar voyages, we operate under environmental regulations that ban the use of recreational drones. Do not bring a drone on safari without contacting us first.